Thursday, 30 May 2013

Head Lice Repellant

YAY!!!  Another thing to bring home from school!!  If it isn't the endless list of colds, viruses and illnesses, the pockets full of wood chips or sand to clog the washing machine, the bags full of unfinished art, it's the dreaded note that YOU have a child with head lice!!

OH the shame.....

Here are some facts about head lice
  • they prefer CLEAN hair.  So contrary to popular belief, the grubbier your kid, the less likely they are to get them
  • Lice cannot survive off of a human host longer than 24 to 48 hours. If a louse did come off an infested individual and hide in a pillow or hat, it is possible for the louse to infest another individual who uses the pillow or hat
  • Head lice are most commonly found on the scalp, behind the ears and near the neckline at the base of the head. 
  • Lice eggs (often called nits). These look like tiny yellow, tan, or brown dots before they hatch. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear.  
  • Lice do not carry or transmit any disease
  • Head lice have been around for millions of years, and dried up lice and their eggs have been found on the hair of Egyptian mummies!
  • Lice have a season and you are more likely to get them in the spring and fall
  • Lice hate the smell of tea tree and lavender
  • Yes I did get itchy while writing this piece
Getting rid of lice naturally is for another post but how to avoid them seems almost more important.  Here's what I did

Head Lice Repellant
Reusing a 100 ml blue glass spray bottle
1 tbsp witch hazel
8 drops tea tree
8 drops lavender

Add the Witch Hazel and Oils to the bottle and top up with water.  Shake well before every use.  Spray generously before school everyday letting it mist the shoulders of their shirts and inside of hoodies. Try to keep long hair pulled back.

So far we have avoided an infestation....thank god because this family has really thick hair and lots of it!!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Real Mama Life = Humiliation

In the on-going struggle to reclaim my health after years of illness with an auto-immune disease I am now subject to this kind of humiliation....apparently best served by the deft hands of my children.

My doctor has sent me for 'stool testing' (bare with me, it gets worse) to be collected at home (thank god) and sent FED EX to a lab just outside Chicago IL (Yes America I am shipping you a box of shit and it ain't for political reasons) Yesterday I prepared the label for the box while waiting for FED EX to pick it up.  It had to be addressed to a 'Dr. Poonam' (I'm not kidding)

When the nice FED EX guy arrived for pick up, the kids ran to the door as I answered it.  We all said our pleasant greetings, he scanned the bar code on the box and looked to make sure I had included the correct 'customs' paperwork.  As he looked, Gabe cackled and announced loudly "It's a box of Mommy's POOP!!" and then laughed like a maniac.

Real Mama Life is right...........

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tomato, Capers, and Olives 'Pasta'

Remember this recipe for zucchini noodles?

The point of that recipe was for this kind of recipe to follow......

I love olives....mostly I love kalamata olives.  I know in the olive world this is the most common and but a small portion of the many to choose from. I do like others but kalamatas are one of my favourite- they are easy to get, and the kids like them.  Although good Spanish green olives are a major ingredient in one of my favourite dishes of all time - Chicken Marbella

When I first starting making zucchini noodles this was my go to recipe long before I considered putting them in a classic tomato sauce.  I guess my thinking was that the kids (and the grown ups) would be less likely to compare them to noodles if they were served this way instead of a classic Italian pasta way.  This recipe has shown up regularly over the last couple of months.  It also straddles the line on Paleo, not completely obeying the rules so depending on how strict you are, limit how often you make this dish**

Tomato, Capers and Olives 'Pasta'
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups *cooked* zucchini noodles (already 'sweated' of excess moisture)
approx 1/2 cup home made chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp dried chillies (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they start to caramelize.  Add the noodles and 1/2 the stock, saute for 3-4 minutes.  Try a noodle and see if it is 'el dente'. If not, continue to saute.  If the stock has completely cooked off and the noodles start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a  little more (2-3 tbsp) stock and continue to saute.  Once noodles feel done quickly add in the olives, capers and tomatoes, toss and serve.  I like mine with some spice and add some dried chillies on top.  If you can tolerate dairy, I recommend a little Parmesan

**Olives and capers are not usually considered Paleo.  The reason for this is the amount of sodium, not because of blood sugar.  Because of this we eat this, it is suggested to eat them in moderation 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Chocolate Salty Balls

I am more of a savory girl than a sweet.....(all puns intended) but there is a certain time of the month that sweet is needed.  Maybe I crave sweets in some attempt to replace the sweet part of me that goes missing around the same time I start to crave it.....maybe in every life a little chocolate must fall.

The tough part is trying to stick with eating right when you have cravings. These are easy.  I mean it

These are my Chocolate Salty Paleo Chocolate Salty Balls.  They are a little misshapen -  I rested them on a hot stove too long.

Nutty Chocolate Salty Balls
1 cup roasted almonds
Approx 18 pitted dates
4 tbsp pure cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
pinch of salt

Chocolate Drizzle
1/2 cup pure coco butter
1/4 cup pure cocoa powder
3 tbsp raw honey

Place the almonds, dates, cocoa and salt in a food processor.  Blend until dates are creamed and almonds are the size of rice grains or smaller.  Slowly add in the coconut oil pulsing after every addition.  Add just enough to make it tacky.  Roll into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate until your balls have firmed up.

You can go ahead and eat these tender delicate balls now but adding a chocolate drizzle adds the 'glisten'.

For the drizzle - melt the coco butter in a double broiler or place a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water.  Whisk in the cocoa powder.  Once completely combined add the honey slowly

Stealing kid hand

I like to set up the balls on a cooling rack that is on top of a silpat or parchment.  I am not fancy about this and just pour a spoonful over the top of each ball letting it drip down. Once done put them back in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.  Then eat.

I have made many versions of this dessert.  Just stick with the ratios and you can be as creative as you want.  Here is a nut free school treat/bake sale version

Nut Free Chocolate Salty Balls
1 1/4 cups toasted Sunflower seeds
Approx 18 pitted dates
4 tbsp pure cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
pinch of salt

or how about Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls?
1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts
8-10 pitted dates
Blend 1/2 the peanuts first until they are peanut butter then add in the remaining peanuts, dates, salt and the cocoa powder 

or Chocolate Cherry Balls ?
replace dates with dried sweet cherry
Cherries are pretty sweet so I prefer these rolled in cocoa powder

or Chocolate Hazelnut Balls?
replace almonds with hazelnuts

Well, there's no beating my Balls (you could make these into cubes or smalls bars but it just isn't Alec Baldwin enough for me)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Real Mama Life: Mother's Day

This Mothers Day was a mixed bag.  The good, the better, and the ugly.

The Good
Mother's Day flowers
The Better
Bea made this.  I got teary

The Ugly
And the wind did this....

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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Zucchini Noodle - A Paleo Staple

Ready to be added to sauce

OH what a steep learning curve this going grain free is.  There have been some serious challenges to keeping it up....the biggest being that I am a mom that signs up/volunteers/says yes and takes on more than I should.  I can actually hear Big Daddy's eyes roll as I write this because although I sign myself up for this stuff, it ultimately becomes part of his to do list too.  Whether it is another night of the week that he is 'single dadding' while I am fulfilling some obligation or the days he chauffeurs me all over town to events, a certain grocery store or some such.  I know it sometimes drives him crazy but he is also very proud of how I dedicate my time and is certainly thankful for a wife that can cook (and likes to).

He was asked recently how he felt about having a gluten free/sugar free/soon to be grain free house (because really he has no real health issues that demand this strictness) He shrugged, "I don't really notice.  Emily cooks food, it's yummy, so I eat it"

This is my pretty much the same attitude my kids have.  We don't sit down to meals that are obviously missing something.  There isn't an attitude of 'where's the'.  The meal stands up to the status of 'dinner' all on it's own without the need for gluten, sugar or grains to make it complete.

That being said, it has been hard work learning how to do that.  You cut out grains and there are some real staples that kids love that get crossed off the list....noodles being the first.  What is more fun for little hands than the learning how to twirl spaghetti around a fork.  Noodles are fun food and almost all kids love them so it was one of the first things I had to learn to replace.

Luckily there is a quick and easy replacement that the kids aren't objecting to.  I started by adding the zucchini noodle to rice noodle spaghetti and then have been slowly weaning us away from the grain based pasta.  It is a change, but not a painful one.

How to make Zucchini Noodles
This is one of few dishes I will give a recipe for that really needs special kitchen equipment.  You need either a Mandoline, Spiralizer or a tool that looks like a peeler but actually juliennes.  

You need:
6 medium size zucchini, try to get ones that are as straight as possible
2-3 clean fresh tea towels
a cookie tray or roasting pan

Wash the zucchini and cut the ends off.  You can peel them if you want, they will look more like wheat noodles if you peel them.....I don't
My sexy 'Spiralizer'
'Noodle' them using what ever tool you've got just avoid trying to make noodles with the seedy center  (this is why I really like the Spiral Slicer because it removes that part for you.  It also gives you long continuous noodles while the mandoline and peeler can only give you noodles the length of the zucchini.  The Spiral Slicer will also give you some funny half slivered moon cuts that aren't noodle like at all.  The more awkward shaped the zucchini the more of these will occur..  I like to put them into a container and throw them into everything from eggs to soups to stir frys all week)

Lay your noodles out on your roasting pan or cookie sheet that has been lined with the tea towels.  Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to distribute the salt.  From here there are two ways to go forward -

1. Set it aside for an hour letting the salt pull some of the moisture out of the zucchini
2. Put the pan in a preheated 200 oven for 30-45 minutes to force it to sweat out some of its moisture.

Removing some of the moisture not only gives the noodles a more 'noodle like' consistency but if you didn't and added these noodles to any pasta dish they would really water down your sauce as they cooked.

Once they have sweated for a while (and cooled if you put them in the oven), roll up the tea towels creating a log with the noodles in it and gently press more liquid out.  The tea towels will get surprisingly wet.

I feel the best way to cook these is to add them to an already simmering sauce but some people put them in a covered microwavable dish and nuke them for a couple of minutes.  Either way these will satisfy those noodle cravings

Monday, 6 May 2013

My Face Lives a Real Mama Life

The realities of motherhood can hit you like a cement head to your nose.

and in my case, breaking it in two places

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